October 5, 2011

Fish Use Tools!

Scientists have discovered evidence of fish using tools to eat.

Shelby: Chimps use them, birds use them, and now it turns out fish use them too. For the first time in history, we have proof that fish use tools. So what does that mean?

This underwater snorkeling video from your family’s beach vacation is more like a paparazzi video, and the shy celebrity is this colorful fish. A wrasse.

“Now he’s going to wait. He’s resting. Going to take the shell again.”

Shelby: What this video shows is an orange dotted tusk fish of the wrasse family. It is taking a clam and banging it against the large rock to bust it open so it can eat the fleshy insides. The fish is using the rock as a tool. Until now, we had no evidence that fish could even use tools.

“It was one of those eureka moments where you finally get to see what you are hoping for. It was quite special.”

Shelby: In the 1800s, Charles Darwin discovered that birds use tools. And fifty years ago, anthropologist Jane Goodall discovered that chimpanzees do as well, like this little guy using a stem to dig for termites. Her research erased some of the differences between mankind and chimps and now evolutionary biologist Giacomo Bernardi has brought back evidence from the south Pacific Ocean that narrows the gap between man and fish.

“This was one of those very lucky moments that made up for those hundreds of hours of cold dives where we couldn’t see anything. So that was really nice.”

Shelby: But boy was this fish one slippery fella! It took fifteen years and four thousand tries in cold water to capture that moment using this simple camera housed in an underwater case, a moment no human has ever caught on tape.


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